Sep 022016
 

What is standard, optional or a green upgrade when buying a new home?

 Features

 Before entering into a new home purchase transaction, you need to ask the builder to define what features are standard, what the standard options are, and what upgrades are available, especially green upgrades. Answers can be confusing and sometimes vague. This is the time to pull out a notebook and write everything down, repeat what you have recorded back to the builder, and get confirmation of the facts.

Let’s start with the standard features. When a builder quotes a price for a home, it might only include basic features. This is why they refer to it as the base price. You need to ask to see the list of features that are included in the base price. Then you need to physically look, touch and feel them to make sure that they are going to be acceptable to you, while making a note of those that are not.

Next, you need to ask to see the list of upgrades that are available together with samples for you to view. This is usually made possible via the builder’s design center where all upgrades should be on display.

Continue reading »

 September 2, 2016
Jul 282016
 

Green Makeover and Purchase Combo Loan

 green makeover loan

A government backed loan program is available to purchase and makeover homes green. It allows a home buyer to include the cost of a Green Makeover into one Purchase Loan.

How does it work?

The best feature is that the loan amount is determined as if the Green Makeover has already been completed and a little higher in some instances.

The home seller is paid for the purchase of the home at closing, and the Green Makeover funds are held in escrow and paid to the contractors after they have completed the work, usually 3-10 days later.

Another great feature is that Green Makeover Purchase Loan programs usually require less than a 5% down payment and are easier to qualify for than traditional Purchase Loans, only requiring FICO scores in the low 600s.

The Green Makeover loan can be enhanced with an additional government-backed Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) feature. The advantage of this feature is that the borrower is not required to qualify for the additional amount of the Green Makeover. Instead, the future energy savings qualify the borrower for the additional amount.

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 July 28, 2016
Jun 302016
 

Buy an Existing Home Green.

 Let us negotiate the purchase of an existing home, to include a Green Home Makeover, immediately after closing.

Any neighborhood – Any price range.  95% Financing available to qualified buyers.

Mira%20Bay%20home

Pre approved Green-Ready Homes.

Why pay the same for a conventional home that can cost as much as $130,000 on energy over the life of a 30 year mortgage when you can live in a Green Makeover Home for the same price and save enough to pay your mortgage off years earlier and save thousands of dollars in interest costs?

Now you don’t have to settle for an increasing energy bill that looks more like a second mortgage. At Florida Green Home Brokers, we are ready to show you a selection of ‘Pre-approved Green-Ready Homes – homes that are ready for a green makeover. These are homes that are in good move-in condition, and that will include some or all of the following features with a Ten Day Turn-Key, Green Makeover:

Continue reading »

 June 30, 2016
May 282016
 

Green renovation loan amounts – How they can be greater than appraisal values.

Increased appraisal values

The fact that a purchase- renovation loan can be used to increase appraisal values is one of real estate’s best kept secrets.

Traditionally, the amount that can be loaned by a lender to a borrower to purchase a home is dictated by the appraisal value. This means that whatever the appraiser’s opinion of the “as-is” value of the property is, this is the maximum amount that a lender will lend to the purchaser.

This rule does not apply when using an FHA purchase-renovation loan to make a home green and energy efficient. This is firstly because the guidelines for this loan allow the lender to lend an amount equal to an appraiser’s opinion of the home’s “after improved” value.

Continue reading »

 May 28, 2016
Apr 252016
 

Increasing the value of underwater homes. 

Underwater houses

Many homes can’t be sold in a conventional manner because there is no equity in them to pay for closing costs. These homes are usually referred to as underwater homes.

A solution to underwater homes lies in selling them to a purchasers who uses a renovation-purchase loans. The reason for this is that the appraisal guidelines for a renovation-purchase loan, is based on the “after improved” value of a home. This is instead of the “as-is” value, as is traditional for all other types of purchase loans.

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 April 25, 2016
Mar 302016
 

NO VOC paint

NO VOC paint

Standard homes are painted with regular paint, which contains a number of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) including heavy metals and formaldehyde.

VOCs are chemicals that have a high evaporation rate, meaning that they sublimate (change from solid to gas while skipping the liquid stage) and off-gas at very low temperatures. The VOCs in regular paint sublimate at ambient room temperatures.

Unless a home that has been painted with regular paint is constantly ventilated with fresh air, the VOCs accumulate and build to levels that are dangerous to the health of the occupants. This is the case with all homes that are air conditioned, because closed windows and doors are required for the system to work properly.

Continue reading »

 March 30, 2016
Feb 152016
 

How we can help you to buy a green home.

Buy a green home

If your intention is to buy a green home, either to live or invest in, congratulations! Today there are compelling reasons to buy a green home instead of a standard home. One good reason is that as building codes rapidly change to mandate energy efficiency and healthy home standards, green homes will be the norm in the future when the time comes to resell your home. At that time, inefficient toxic homes will be devalued and fetch lower prices.

For clear evidence of the overwhelming trend for all homes to go green, one only has to look at the Realtor MLS system that now includes almost 30 green home features that can be selected by people wanting to buy a green home. The system is also starting to mandate the inclusion of a home energy efficiency HERS rating for every listing soon.

Continue reading »

 February 15, 2016
Jan 022016
 

Our Green Home Expertise is your holistic,
“whole house” decision making advantage.

Green home design

Unlike standard homes, every feature in a green home impacts all of the others, either positively or negatively with regards to, energy cost, occupant health, carbon footprint, and property value.

We are trained and qualified to help you to understand each feature’s effect on the others, and make the right choices for your home.

Examples are:

  1. Should you invest in better windows, less insulation or a bigger AC?

Thermal windows come with vinyl, aluminum, fiberglass, wood or steel frames, in different sizes, 2 or 3 panes of glass, impact or non, low-E 2 or 3, argon or krypton gas, each labeled with 5 different performance ratings. The windows that you choose will affect the required capacity and cost of the home’s heating and cooling system, as well as the amount, type, rating, and location of insulation.

As certified energy raters we can do the inter-relative calculations and show you how each option impacts the other, so that you can make the best “whole house” holistic decision for you and your family. Learn more about an Energy Rating for your home.

Continue reading »

 January 2, 2016
Nov 152015
 

Energy efficient Clothes Washers and Dryers.

 

Energy efficient Clothes Washers and Dryers

New construction home Buyers are usually offered clothes washers and dryers as an optional extra. Resale home sales usually do not include these appliances.

Either scenario gives home Buyers the opportunity to acquire new technology energy efficient washers and driers that will save them money year after year, thereby reducing their cost of home ownership.

Lets take a look at both:

Continue reading »

 November 15, 2015
Sep 302015
 

 Energy Efficient Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fan

ENERGY STAR certified ceiling combination light and fan units are approximately 60% more energy efficient than conventional light and fan units. The reason for this is firstly because of the technologies that they use.

Ceiling fan motors need to create magnetic fields to operate. AC (Alternating current) motors create magnetic fields with the aid of large quantities of electricity while DC (differential current) motors include permanent magnets, and, therefore, use very little electricity. To enhance efficiency even further, these motors can be operated at a number of variable speeds and be activated remotely or switched off by automatic sensors.

Continue reading »

 September 30, 2015
Aug 152015
 

One-Time Close Construction Loan

One-time close construction loan

Instead of the traditional “two loan” process that first requires a construction loan, then, after the home is built, a permanent loan to pay off the construction portion, a One-Time Close Construction Loan  rolls both loans into one!

A One-Time Close Construction Loan allows you to plan your home, build your home, and then begin regular payments with just one loan. No other loan product can make the construction loan process easier.

Here are the main advantages of a One-Time Close Construction Loan:

Continue reading »

 August 15, 2015
Jun 302015
 

Energy Efficient Mortgage

 

Energy Efficient Mortgage

An Energy Efficient Mortgage allows home buyers to borrow more than they traditionally can qualify for, if they buy a home that has been rated Energy Efficient.

How is this possible?

Continue reading »

 June 30, 2015
May 152015
 

Home Energy Rating
Home Energy Rating

A Home Energy Rating provides a standardized evaluation of a home’s energy efficiency and expected energy costs.

Before buying a re-sale home, we all know that we should order a home-inspection to check that we are not buying any defects. However, you should also order an Energy Rating to ensure that you are not buying an energy hog.

Continue reading »

 May 15, 2015
Mar 302015
 

The Note and Mortgage.

Note and Mortgage

Mortgage and note documents are only applicable at a closing if a buyer is borrowing money to buy a property.

A real estate note is often mistakenly referred to as a mortgage. However, a note and  mortgage are two separate documents.

Continue reading »

 March 30, 2015
Feb 092015
 

Truth In Lending Statement (TIL)

Truth In Lending Statement (TIL)

This is our second post in our series to provide a simple explanation of what real estate closing documents are, and to prepare you so that the closing is a less daunting experience.

In this post, we are going to explain the Truth In Lending Statement, which is usually referred to as the  TIL.

This statement, which should be made available before the closing takes place, is only applicable to a buyer who is borrowing funds purchase a property. It is intended to provide the borrower with an opportunity to compare the APR with the loan costs that are being charged. Below are the items on the statement that must be disclosed:

Continue reading »

 February 9, 2015
Feb 052015
 

HUD-1 Settlement Statement - DP

HUD-1 Settlement Statement

The closing of a real estate transaction can often be confusing and intimidating for buyers and sellers. The closing venue is usually an unfamiliar environment, with strangers who seem to be so very familiar with everything that you are not. On top of it all, you are dealing with the transfer of hundreds of thousands of dollars or its equivalent in real estate, and are being presented with endless unfamiliar documents to sign.

It doesn’t have to be this way. All that is required is a simple explanation of what the documents are plus some preparation, and a closing will be a less daunting experience.

This post is the first in a series of posts that takes a look at these documents to help you to prepare for your closing event.

Continue reading »

 February 5, 2015
Jan 292015
 

Seller closing costs

Seller closing costs

Below are the typical closing costs for a residential home seller. Use the form as a worksheet to calculate your closing costs by adding and totaling your estimates in the Estimate $ column. Use the linked calculators and the provided pro-rata formula to obtain estimates.

Continue reading »

 January 29, 2015
Jan 202015
 

Good indoor home air quality.

Home air quality

The EPA has told us that the air in our homes is 5 – 10 times more polluted than the air outside. To make matters worse, if we make a habit of keeping our windows closed for air conditioning, and never opening them  to allow fresher air to come in, then the home air quality becomes increasing worse as more and more pollutants are added every day.

These added pollutants can come from chemicals that we use in our homes, toxic personal products, smoking, toxins that off-gas from furniture, flooring, paints, sealants and fabrics, from germs and viruses from people and animals, as well as dust, mold spores, radon gas, insect waste and more. The result of this poor indoor air quality can be bronchial problems, like asthma and bronchitis as well as allergies, neurological and heart problems.

So, what features and technologies do green homes have to overcome these problems and instead, provide safer and healthier home air quality? Here are few to consider:

Continue reading »

 January 20, 2015
Jan 182015
 

Toxin-free flooring

Non-toxic flooring

Standard homes are often fitted with flooring that contain glues, dyes, stains, grouts, sealers, and finishes that contain toxic chemicals. These chemicals leach out or off-gas into the air-space and contaminate its quality, often at the expense of occupant health. The problem is made worse by air conditioning that requires windows and doors to remain closed at all times. Toxins are, therefore, trapped and accumulate inside a home and creating sick home syndrome.

Green homes overcome this problem with toxin-free flooring.

Continue reading »

 January 18, 2015
Jan 142015
 

 Non toxic, eco friendly recycled carpet.

Recycled Carpet image – Florida Green Home Brokers.

Mohawk EverStrand carpet

Eco friendly carpet is now not only non toxic, but also diverts plastic from going into landfills.

One of the biggest culprits of toxic indoor air is what you smell when new carpeting has been laid in a home.

Standard carpet consists of synthetic materials, like olefin or nylon tufts, polypropylene, jute, solvent based adhesives, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or hydrocarbon resins, styrene-butradiene rubber (known as SBR), synthetic backings, and solvent based glue coatings.

This is another reason why the EPA has told us that the air in our homes is 5 – 10 times more polluted than the air outside.

 

Continue reading »

 January 14, 2015
Jan 132015
 

Buyer prepayments and escrows closing costs worksheet

buyer prepayments and escrows closing costs

Below are the typical prepayment and escrow closing costs for a residential home buyer borrower (excluding title costs and loan prorations). Use the form as a worksheet to calculate your prepay and escrow lending costs by adding and totaling your estimates in the Estimate $ column. Use the linked calculators and the provided pro-rata formula to obtain estimates.

Continue reading »

 January 13, 2015
Jan 082015
 

Buyer loan closing costs work sheet 

Buyer loan closing costs

Below are the typical closing costs for a residential home loan borrower (excluding title closing costs and pro-rations). Use the form as a worksheet to calculate your loan closing costs by adding and totaling your estimates in the Estimate $ column. Use the linked calculators and the provided pro-rata formula to obtain estimates.

Continue reading »

 January 8, 2015
Jan 052015
 

Solar hot water heater.

Solar Hot Water Heaters mean free hot water from the sun.

Solar hot water heater image - Florida Green Home Brokers

Standard homes are usually fitted with electric water heaters. These technologically primitive appliances have been around for many years.

They heat water via two elements that are poisoned at the top and the bottom of the inside of their storage tanks. Usually, each element draws 4500 Watts and they cycle on and off during the day depending on how much hot water is used, or has to be maintained for on-demand use.

The result is that a residential electric water heater that uses 375 KWh of electricity per month, costs a homeowners an average of $600 per year  (Waterheatertimer.org source). Use this U.S. Depatment of Energy calculator to calculate your own.

However, this is not the total cost picture.

Continue reading »

 January 5, 2015
Dec 242014
 

Buyer title closing costs work sheet

Buyer closing costs

Below are the typical buyer closing costs for a residential home buyer (excluding lender closing costs and pro-rations). Use the form as a worksheet to calculate your buyer closing costs by adding and totaling your estimates in the Estimate $ column. Use the linked calculators and the provided pro-rata formula to obtain estimates.

Continue reading »

 December 24, 2014
Dec 152014
 

What is an APR?

APR

A Truth-in-Lending statement is a Federal required document that must be provided by a lender to all mortgage loan borrowers. Its purpose is to help borrowers compare the cost of one loan against another.

However, the document is confusing. One of the terms in the document that adds to the confusion is the “APR” Annual Percentage Rate.

Continue reading »

 December 15, 2014
Dec 042014
 

Florida Property Taxes

Florida property taxes

Florida property taxes are calculated a little differently to other states. This is a quick and easy look at how this works.

On the first day of January every year, the county property appraiser is supposed to determine the value of each property. The valuation takes into consideration the size of a home, its improvements, any negative influences, and local market trends.

The determined value, is then published as the “accessed” value on a country property appraisers website. Also published is a rate that should be applied to the value in order to calculate the amount of property taxes owed. The rate is called the “millage” rate and is quoted as a whole number called a “mil”. Each mil represents 0.001 of the assessed property value. The typical mil rates in Florida are usually 16-20 mils.

Continue reading »

 December 4, 2014
Nov 262014
 

What affects indoor air quality?

Indoor air quality

Indoor air quality is affected by a number of factors. Many of the smaller factors are often discounted by people because of their inability or unwillingness to consider them in the proper context of their cumulative health affects, their prolonged contact with a home’s occupants, as well as the commercial forces behind their perceived safety and social acceptance.

The problem of toxins in a home is best explained by an analogy that I often use to help homeowners understand the problem better.

Continue reading »

 November 26, 2014
Nov 202014
 

VA Loans

VA loans

After the 2nd world war, congress passed the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act to reward soldiers returning from war and to help them to re-establish themselves in civilian society. Out of this act was created the department of Veterans Administration (VA).

Lenders who make loans to VA entitled veterans are guaranteed against default up to a specified percentage of loans made. Each veteran is afforded a certificate of eligibility by the VA, which also assigns an  appraisal of the home being purchased to ensure that its value meets the required loan security.

Continue reading »

 November 20, 2014
Nov 132014
 

Federal Housing Authority – FHA Loan Programs

FHA loans

Participating lenders are insured by the Federal Housing Authority FHA against incurring foreclosure losses as per an authorization by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The caveat is that only loans that are made to borrowers that meet loan limits and guidelines set by congress to qualify, and they can only be for the purchase and occupying of primary residences.

Continue reading »

 November 13, 2014
Nov 112014
 

How Construction Financing Works

construction financing

Most buyers need financing in order to buy a home. If you are also going to borrow funds to build a new home, then you need to know about how construction financing works.

Lenders always require collateral, which makes it harder to lend against new construction because there is nothing to attach until the home is built. This is why construction financing usually involves interest-only short-term loans and carry a higher interest rate to compensate for the higher risks involved.

Continue reading »

 November 11, 2014
Nov 042014
 

Types Of Mortgage Loans

Mortgage loans

There are many different mortgage programs from which to choose. Selecting one depends on your financial situation, your plans for the property that you are purchasing, the length of time that you intend owning it, and much more. The best way to go about choosing the best loan for your circumstances is to consult a reputable and experienced mortgage broker.

Fixed Rate Loan

You will most likely be familiar with a 30 year fixed rate mortgage loan. Variations are 20, 15 and even 10-year terms. With these loans, the interest rate never fluctuates, and so your payment commitment is always the same, except for increases in taxes and insurance.

One unpopular characteristic of a fixed rate loan is the fact that during the early repayment years, most of the payment money goes towards paying interest and only a small portion towards principal reduction.

Continue reading »

 November 4, 2014
Nov 012014
 

Can you afford mortgage financing?

Mortgage financing

Despite what on-line calculators tell you, to know for sure you can afford a new home, and the mortgage financing that goes with it is going to take a little work on your part.

Calculating your financial obligations:

To start with, you need to come up with an accurate assessment of your current expenses and financial obligations. Below is a list of expenses that should be included in your assessment:

Continue reading »

 November 1, 2014
Oct 152014
 

Sustainable cabinets for kitchens and bathrooms.

Sustainable kitchen cabinets

Standard homes are fitted with kitchen and bathroom cabinetry that can contain high levels of formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are a wide variety of chemicals that are emitted as a gas from almost every gas or liquid product that humans manufacture synthetically and use in homes. Examples are paints, solvents, varnishes, waxes and glues.

This is why the EPA warns that VOCs trapped inside homes can cause short and long term damage to the health of humans as well as cancer.

Continue reading »

 October 15, 2014
Oct 102014
 

Geothermal heat pump system – Using free solar energy stored in the earth.

Standard home air conditioners or heat pumps use electricity and or gas as their energy sources. Both are expensive and their production, use or combustion is harmful to the environment. A popular alternative for green homes is to use a heat pump system that uses natural geothermal energy.

What is geothermal energy? The word geothermal is made up of two separate words which roughly translate into “earth temperatures”.
Geothermal energy can be seen in the form of hot geysers that spew from deep under the earth. A second form is solar energy that has been stored in the ground, immediately below the surface of the earth.

A heat pump is a device that moves heat from one place to another in the same way as heat is moved from the inside to the outside of your fridge by the device that you hear humming at the back. This is why you can feel hot air coming from there.

A geothermal system consists of hundreds of feet of pipe that is buried below the surface of the earth, or in a large body of water, as well as a heat exchanger. The temperatures are transported in a liquid in the pipes from the earth to a heat exchanger inside a home and finally from the heat exchanger back to the earth.

Geothermal heat pump system

During the summer, the heat exchanger performs the same function as a condenser, the noisy outside unit of a conventional heat pump. In the winter, it functions as an evaporator.
Once exchanged, and with the aid of a compressor, temperatures are transported via heated, cooled, condensed or vaporized refrigerant to or from an indoor condenser during winter, which becomes an evaporator during summer.

Continue reading »

 October 10, 2014
Oct 032014
 

 

What makes a home green? No air duct leakage.

Standard homes have a problem in their attics – leaking air ducts. Indoor air that is conditioned by an air conditioner is delivered to the different parts of a home via system of air ducts. Unless these ducts are perfectly sealed, then some of the conditioned air escapes, or unconditioned air is sucked in.

Both problems result in air conditioners having to work harder, which cost the homeowner more money.

The University of Florida’s IFAS Extension Service determined that among typical homes in Florida, duct systems lose 25 to 40 percent of heating or cooling energy.

Continue reading »

 October 3, 2014
Oct 012014
 

Ductless Mini-Split Systems

Ductless mini-split system

The air in most standard homes is conditioned by central systems that include air ducts. This is inefficient because as much as 30% of conditioned temperatures are lost due to attic temperatures and duct leakages. The ducts also add significantly to the cost of these systems.

Green home designs are increasing including ductless mini-split systems that don’t use air ducts. These ultra-efficient systems cost less, are easier to install and require less maintenance. They also do an even better job of dehumidification and cooling, and with SEER ratings of 25 and more, use 50% less energy than standard air-conditioning systems.

Like a central system, the system also has an outdoor condenser and compressor unit. However, instead of it serving one large central air handler inside the home, the compressor and condenser serves multiple small air handlers and individual thermostats that are each located in different parts of the home.
Continue reading »

 October 1, 2014
Sep 262014
 

What makes a home green? Germicidal UV light. 

Or, how to kill mold spores before they can get into your lungs.

UV light- Honeywell

Image credit to Honeywell

Many standard homes have mold problems, especially in the hot and humid southern states of America.

Mold is responsible for a range of bronchial, respiratory and other related health problems. The perfect environment for it to flourish in a standard home is where it is dark and damp. The area around the air conditioner coil and drip pan inside the air handler is one such perfect environment. Air that blows over any mold in that area will excite their spores and cause them to become airborne and move with the flow of air, into the home interior. The above scenario can therefore be the source of contamination throughout the home via the forced air system, silently affecting the health of its occupants, even while they sleep.

Continue reading »

 September 26, 2014
Sep 152014
 

Hurricane resistant garage doors

Hurricane resistant garage doors

Garage doors are the largest and most venerable single opening in a home.

Statistics show that a blown in garage door is a leading cause of hurricane wind entry into a house resulting in roof blow-off, water intrusion, catastrophic damage and loss of life. Standard homes seldom include garage doors that prevent this from happening.

Durability and safety are fundamental features of green homes which is why they include hurricane resistant garage doors and windows.

Continue reading »

 September 15, 2014
Sep 132014
 

Impact resistant windows

Impact resistant windows

Impact windows are one of the superior features of a green home because of the additional safety, durability and savings that they afford homeowners.

Standard homes are usually fitted with non-impact resistant windows that have one single pane of glass which is easily broken by storm winds, flying debris, and also forced entry. In the event of a hurricane, wind entering the home via broken windows results in catastrophic damage as it lifts the roof off and allows water to enter and destroy everything. Continue reading »

 September 13, 2014
Sep 102014
 

The least expensive path to a zero energy home.

Zero energy home calcualtions

To get to zero energy, a home needs to make some of its own power, however, without a good strategy a solar electric system can be an expensive additional feature. But it does not have to be that way. The best strategy is to firstly make the home as energy efficient as possible so that the remaining energy load on the house is low enough to be satisfied by the smallest and least expensive solar electric system possible.

There is though one hurdle to overcome to achieve success: In the quest to make the home as energy efficient as possible, one is confronted with a multitude of different and sometimes confusing green feature options that are offered by builders. These features cannot be selected independently as they are interrelated and all impact each other holistically.
Continue reading »

 September 10, 2014
Sep 042014
 

Zoned Air Conditioning

Air conditioning zoning thermostat

To understand the green advantages of zoned air conditioning, we have to first look at standard homes and the reasons why they are often uncomfortable due to unequal temperatures in different rooms. This is caused by some of the rooms being on a side of the home that receives more or less direct sunlight, having bigger or smaller windows, higher or lower ceilings, being more or less insulated, being on the 1st or 2nd floor or in the basement, occupied more or less frequently, or that contains heat or steam producing appliances or not. Continue reading »

 September 4, 2014
Sep 032014
 

High performance windows.

Thermal windows

Windows form part of a green home’s thermal envelope, its outer shell which protects it against unwanted temperatures from moving in or out of it. The movement of energy through standard windows is caused by three main factors:

  • Air Infiltration – Windows that don’t fit properly allow air to move around them. Just a small 1/16 of an inch gap around one window is equivalent to an entire brick missing from an external wall. Through it, escapes indoor conditioned air, while hot and humid or cold outdoor air enters from outside.
  • Conduction – There is a reason cooking utensils are made from glass, aluminum or metal. Just like standard window frames that are made from the same materials, heat travels easily through them. This movement of energy through solids is called conduction.
  • Radiation – When you stand near to fire, you feel its heat radiating towards you. The same transfer of heat through air takes place through standard windows, which moves unwanted heat into a home during summer and out of a home during winter.

Continue reading »

 September 3, 2014
Sep 022014
 

Older homes have great potential to be green.

Historic houseOwners of older homes often have misconceptions that their homes can’t be green because of the fact that they were not built using the latest high performance building materials and building techniques. The truth is that in many respects, older homes can outperform newer homes in their quest to be green, energy efficient, healthy, and sustainable.

Consider the three R’s cornerstones of being green, recycle, reuse and reduce. Older homes (especially historic homes) were often built from natural materials that were sourced close by, such as local stone and wood. We often see beautiful stone, cement, wood, terrazzo and slate floors in older homes, as well very durable clay tile roofing, low maintenance split-face stone or brick walls, slate patios, and stone windowsills. Continue reading »

 September 2, 2014
Aug 262014
 

 How green homes save money –  just like a fridge

Green homes save moneyImagine if your fridge has only a thin cardboard door and walls instead of the thick, heavily insulated door and walls that you are familiar with. Then consider how long that cardboard structure will be able to keep the food inside cold? About as long as ice cream in a box. To make matters worse, imagine punching holes into the cardboard and also installing a hot, bright light inside, and then consider how much harder the compressor under your fridge will have to work to keep the contents cold. Common sense tells you that even with the compressor working day and night, having little insulation and many holes in a thin structure would result in a losing battle, and your energy costs would be off the charts.  Continue reading »

 August 26, 2014

Mar 032014
 

GEORGE WASHINGTON, OUR FIRST GREEN HOME DESIGNER

George Washington - Florida Green Home BrokersThe solutions for Florida to avoid the impending disaster of climate change were green home design concepts that George Washington practiced centuries ago.

He designed an unconventional green home in Mount Vernon that included, passive comfort measures and which he surrounded with a native garden that included many of the local tree species. He even introduced natural sections of his garden, a sustainable concept that is today key to eco-friendly home design.

Continue reading »

 March 3, 2014
Feb 202014
 

Are Green Homeowners Happy?

Happy Green Home Owners - Florida Green Home BrokersA nationwide survey was recently conducted, which produced some interesting and positive results.

It turns out that what green homeowners are most happy about is the money that they are saving because of energy efficiency and the fact that the savings help them financially.

Continue reading »

 February 20, 2014
Jan 162014
 

What makes a home green? A Salt Free Water Softener.

The standard home scale and hard water problem:

Lime scale - Florida Green Home BrokersStandard homes, especially in Florida, have a problem with hard water, which forms lime scale inside all of the water appliances and piping. It’s caused by the high content of calcium and magnesium that precipitates out of the water and can easily be seen inside kettles or around bathroom or kitchen sink outlets.

When the scale starts to clog up appliances such as water heaters and dishwashers, it causes them to work inefficiently and use more energy. Not only does this hurt the homeowner’s pocket, but so does the streaks of lime scale that have to be removed from glasses, windows and shower enclosures, using toxic chemicals.
Continue reading »

 January 16, 2014
Dec 212013
 

Spray Foam Insulation.

The standard home hot attic problem.

One of the major problems with standard homes is that their air conditioner ducting systems are located in their attics, the part of homes where temperatures can soar to above 140 degrees or more during the summer.  

The result of this is that the conditioned air in the ducting system becomes reheated for as long as it travels around the attic. This is why you might have noticed in standard homes that the rooms furthest from the air handler are warmer than the others. This causes occupant discomfort and high energy bills as air conditioners struggle to maintain cool temperatures.

Spray Foam Insulation - Florida Green Home Brokers

Photo courtesy of Gulf Coast Insulation

The Green Home solution.

Green homes overcome this problem by their attics being super insulated with Spray Foam Insulation. this keeps them cool, thereby maintaining the conditioned air temperatures in their ducts, as well as ensuring equal comfort in all rooms. 

So what exactly is Spray Foam Insulation and how is it applied?    Continue reading »

 December 21, 2013
Dec 132013
 

Habitat for humanity logo - Florida Green Home BrokersHabitat for Humanity – Building Green Homes.

At an additional cost of only $2 per SF, watch how Habitat for Humanity is building green homes and saving low income homeowners hundreds of dollars in energy bills. 

Watch the video:

Continue reading »

 December 13, 2013
Dec 072013
 

What makes a home green? Correctly located and sealed gas appliances – vital for good indoor air quality. 

 Combustion appliance, Air quality - Florida Green Home BrokersThe standard home gas appliances problem.

The problem with standard homes is that they are often fitted with inexpensive gas appliances and supply pipes that are not sealed properly. They can also be installed incorrectly or in the wrong locations.  The pre or post combustion gasses that escape from them can be trapped in the air conditioned space of a home and are extremely harmful to humans and pets.

The green home solution.

Green homes overcome this problem with sealed combustion and correctly located appliances. 

So how do you know if the gas appliances in your home are safe, correctly located and installed?   

For an answer to this question I asked an expert: Cate Hammer of Building Insight, a certified home performance analyst providing service in the Tampa Bay area. This is what Cate advised:    Continue reading »

 December 7, 2013
Nov 072013
 

What makes a home green? A heat pump water heater
that 
extracts free heat from the air.

The standard home hot water heating problem.

Standard home hot water heaters usually comprise of a 40-100 gallon tank with either two electric elements, or a gas burner and heat exchanger that heats the water.  The electric system is usually the 2nd highest consumer of electricity (the 1st being the air conditioning system), with the generation of electric power being one of the main contributors to air pollution and global warming. The gas system is less expensive and less harmful to the environment but still presents homeowners with an unwelcome and ever increasing expense for hot water.

GeoSpring Hybrid Hot Water Heater - Florida Green Home BrokersThe green home solution.

Green homes significantly reduce this cost for homeowners by using Heat Pump technology to literally extract free heat contained in the air and using it to heat water. As this innovation is not yet able to always satisfy 100% of a home’s water heating demand, it is used together with conventional heating systems, in the form of a heat pump water heater. The result is an energy saving of more than 60% as well as a lower impact on the planet. Continue reading »

 November 7, 2013
Oct 262013
 

What makes a home green? A Water Wise certified yard.

A Water Wise yard saves water and money.

The problem with standard home yards is that they include exotic plants that need large amounts of water as well as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, which are then often washed into  the storm water sewer by a water hungry irrigation system. Green home yards overcome this problem by following Water Wise guidelines and using native landscape plants and water efficient irrigation systems.

WaterWise Yard - Florida Green Home Brokers

 

So how do native plants survive on less water, and what is a Water Wise yard?

For answers to these questions, I asked an expert: Falon Mihalic of Falon Land Studio, who provides professional landscape design services in the Sarasota area. Here is Falon’s explanation in her own words: Continue reading »

 October 26, 2013
Oct 112013
 

Lipstick-on-a-pig is killing real estate, families and our economy. Why? 

Lipstick on a pig image - Florida Green Home Brokers

Most investors buy homes to flip or rent. They buy cheap and fix cheap; Lipstick-On-A-Pig only, and they never spend money on energy improvements, which are more costly. The negative consequences are that everyone and the economy loses;

  • Energy improvements are ignored – Renters and buyers are stuck with high energy costs.
  • Contractors loose income – No energy  improvements are made
  • The tax base is not increased – No substantial improvements are made
  • Local suppliers loose income – The contractors do not order materials
  • Realtors earn less – Lower priced inefficient homes mean smaller commissions
  • Lenders suffer – Lower selling prices have to be accepted
  • The neighborhood is blighted – Renters have no pride of ownership
  • Neighbors struggle to sell – Neighborhood values are lowered.
  • Comparable values are kept low – Other neighborhood sales can’t be financed.
  • The demand on energy remains high – Foreign oil imports have to be maintained.
  • Coal burning electricity demand is maintained – Pollution is increased. 
  • Homeowners can’t save on energy costs – Homes end up in foreclosure again

 And the cycle is repeated again and again,  and no one ever wins!

Homes that are properly improved for energy efficiency after foreclosure means that everyone wins. Here’s why; Continue reading »

 October 11, 2013
Sep 262013
 

What makes a home green? A 2-Stage Air Conditioner.

2-Stage Air Conditioner image – Florida Green Home Brokers The problem with standard home air conditioners is that they are usually as powerful as they need to be to take care of the hottest day of the year, something that they must be able to do in order to satisfy consumers. However, there is only one hottest day in the year, and they will use the same amount of power every day, for the remaining 364 days of the year. This is much like driving your car with your foot flat on the gas pedal at all times. Not a very energy efficient idea.

Green homes overcome this problem by introducing air conditioners that vary their power requirement and operation speed as is needed on any particular day of the year, and therefore, also their energy consumption.

 

So how is this possible? Continue reading »

 September 26, 2013
Sep 182013
 

What makes a home green? A Low flow shower head.

So what’s wrong with our old shower head that we have lived with for so long? Low flow showerhead image - Florida Green Home Brokers

Standard homes waste water because of water inefficient appliances and fixtures, the biggest culprits being shower heads. Not only do we not need as much water as we are accustomed to using to get a great shower, but most of it simply goes down the drain, providing us with two unnecessary costs – the cost of the wasted water, as well as the additional sewer cost.  

How does a low flow shower head make a difference?

Plumbing technology has changed in recent years – Enter the low flow shower head, which delivers 40% – 60% less water while still providing an effective shower and even a more pleasurable experience. Not only is water saved, but new water pulsing options introduce a level of therapy to the user.

Standard shower heads deliver 3-5 gallons of water per minute, while water efficient models  only 1.3 – 1.9 gallons per minute.

These green shower heads, as well as all other water saving fixtures, are easily identified if they have the WaterSense label, which is the official stamp of water efficiency approval that is provided by the Department of Energy.

 It is estimated that if only one in four American homes switch to WaterSense labeled fixtures, 185 billion gallons and almost 5 billion dollars would be saved per year.

Continue reading »

 September 18, 2013
Sep 142013
 

What makes a home green? A home automation system.

 

Home management system image - Florida Green Home BrokersBeing able to monitor and manage a home’s energy consuming appliances and electronics, as well as its security features with a home automation system, has great advantages for green homeowners.

Unnecessary energy costs can mostly be attributed to appliances working at the same rate while a home’s occupants are not there as they do when they are at home.  Good examples are hot water heaters, air conditioners, lights and phantom loads caused by TVs, printers, small appliances all running and maintaining use readiness while occupants are away for a day, weeks or even longer. Some of these appliances can’t be completely shut off, and a home that is not lit at night and is lit during the day is venerable to burglars. The problem is compounded by a homeowner not knowing which appliances use the most energy and at what time of the day, making expense budgeting and their management impossible. Continue reading »

 September 14, 2013
Aug 272013
 

What makes a home green? A whole house vacuum system. 

According to the EPA indoor home air can be 5 times or more polluted than the air outside. There are many reasons for this, such as the release of personal and cleaning chemicals, toxins given off from paint, furniture, carpets, sealants and cabinetry, tobacco smoke, cooking, glues, solvents, gas appliances, to name a few.

Sucking up smaller air particles requires the additional power of a whole house vacuum system.

Central vacuum system image - Florida Green Home Brokers

Image credit to NuTone Residential Housing Products

Besides the chemicals, another main cause of indoor air pollution, that is also responsible for many bronchial problems, is the small and microscopic particles that float in the air and settle all over the home, and which are breathed in by the occupants. These particles are made up of pet dander, dust, dust mites, human skin flakes, cooking particulates, and carpet, curtain and furniture upholstery fibers. Continue reading »

 August 27, 2013
Aug 202013
 

Do green homes sell faster and for more?

Recent studies say that green homes increase in value and sell faster at higher prices.

The Appraisal Journal in 2008 states that every $1 decrease in energy costs results in a $10 to $25 increase in home values.

Green homes sales and values image – Florida Green Home BrokersGreen homes sales and values image – Florida Green Home Brokers

The Earth Advantage Institute released a report in 2009 showing green-certified homes in the have sold at a 3%-5% premium over conventionally built homes. Continue reading »

 August 20, 2013
Aug 132013
 

What makes a home green? Home Air Sealing and Weatherization.

Home Air Sealing and Weatherization image - Florida Green Home BrokersImagine if your fridge were full of holes. If it were, then the motor under your fridge that works to keep the air inside cold, would have to work 24/7 to try and keep your food from spoiling. Well, have you have ever noticed that the air conditioners of some homes seem to also work 24/7? They do that for the same reason, because their outer shells are full of holes and they are constantly trying to cool the interiors.

Home air sealing and weatherization is defined by the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program as sealing and insulating the “envelope” or “shell” of your home, just like you would plug up the holes in your fridge. Continue reading »

 August 13, 2013
Aug 132013
 

What makes a home green? CFL Compact Fluorescent Bulbs. 

CFL Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs image – Florida Green Home BrokersStandard homes use incandescent light bulbs, inefficient 100 year old technology that converts 95% of its energy received into heat, and only 5% into light. Once we understand this, we realize that each light bulb is just like a small heater, each one making a home’s air conditioner work a little harder, and costing us a little more money.

This is one of the reasons why a home’s lighting can be responsible for as much as 20% of its electric bill, which is not good for a homeowner’s pocket or the planet, as unnecessary amounts of electricity have to be produced which also adds to air pollution and further global warming.

A little more than 20 years ago, CFL Compact Fluorescent  Bulbs became a slow solution as they flickered into our lives. Today they work perfectly, as we wait for the economics of their even better counterparts, LED Light Emitting Diod bulbs, to make sense. Continue reading »

 August 13, 2013
Aug 092013
 

What Makes a Home Green? An Air Purifier.

Air-knight image - Florida Green Home Brokers

Image credit to Air-Knight

We spend most of our lives indoors, where the EPA has determined, the air is 5 – 10 times more polluted than the air outside. This is because, as homes become more air tight, particles, smaller than a micron, consisting of mold spores, bacteria, germs and viruses, animal dander, human skin particles, fabric fibers, personal and cleaning product fumes,  sprays and aerosols, dust, tobacco smoke, and gasses such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde and   carbon dioxide, once released into a home, are trapped. As time goes by, they accumulate and cause what’s called “sick home syndrome”. However it’s not the home that gets sick, it’s the occupants. Continue reading »

 August 9, 2013
Aug 062013
 

Do net zero homes cost more?

Even if the initial sticker price is higher, net zero homes are the less expensive option.

Zero Energy Homes image - Florida Green Home BrokersThe cost of green home features are coming down as fast as laptop computer prices, making many of them cost the same as conventional homes. However, a conventionally powered home will initially always be less expensive than a net zero energy home. This is because the latter has been built using high performance construction materials and methods that holistically make it possible for the electric load to be satisfied with only a 5 KW, or smaller solar electric system. Continue reading »

 August 6, 2013
Jul 312013
 

Odessa Green Home Living.

Living in a Green Home with horses in beautiful Odessa. What a combination!

Green Homes with horses image - Florida Green Home BrokersWho wouldn’t like to live in a water efficient, no electric bill, green home in Odessa, and when you look out of the window, you see horses?

 In Odessa FL, we have a number of opportunities for you to own your own Zero Energy, LEED certified home on a large 2.5 + acre home site with a country feel, yet only minutes from civilization. Continue reading »

 July 31, 2013
Jul 252013
 

Building green with Autoclaved Aerated Concrete.

Autoclaved aerated concrete image - Florida Green Home Brokers

Credit to Aircrete

Standard concrete building blocks provide little fire resistance and almost no insulation, which results in higher energy bills and less occupant comfort and safety.  The solution is Autoclaved Aerated Concrete.

Made from cement, fine aggregates and an agent that causes the mixture to expand, this building material ends up as 80% air. Once molded and cut to size, the blocks are set and bonded with mortar, providing a strong, fire resistant structure that provides insulation from both sound and temperature. Continue reading »

 July 25, 2013
Jul 202013
 

What makes a home green? Recycled Drywall.

 Recycled Drywall reduces waste and protects our planet. Let’s see why. 

Drywall, also known wall/plasterboard, has a noncombustible core that is traditionally made from natural gypsum ore, a product that has to be mined from the earth. Recycled drywall image - Florida Green Home Brokers

To reduce air pollution, coal fired plants use a desulfurization process which results in a waste byproduct called calcium sulfate, also known as synthetic gypsum, which is now increasingly being recycled by green minded manufacturers to make drywall. This is possible due to the fact that it is chemically the same as natural rock gypsum. Continue reading »

 July 20, 2013
Jul 102013
 

Palm Harbor, Zero Energy, LEED Certified Home image - Florida Green Home BrokersZero Energy, LEED Certified Homes for sale, on a nature reserve, in Palm Harbor Florida.

Who wouldn’t like to live in a home with no electric bill, one that conserves water, has great air quality, and when you look out of the window, you see a 8,700 acre nature reserve?

 30 unique lots are available for a short period of time before they get snatched up by buyers wanting to live  a sustainable lifestyle surrounded by nature. Continue reading »

 July 10, 2013
Jun 302013
 

What makes a home green? Structural Insulated Panels.

The green home alternative to air, moisture and temperature intrusion.

Structural Insulated Panels image – Florida Green Home Brokers

Photo by PowerHouse – Alliant Energy

Conventional construction is hard to seal against air and moisture infiltration, and walls are usually not thick enough to allow for effective temperature insulation. Continue reading »

 June 30, 2013
Jun 202013
 

What makes a home green? Reflective roofing.

 Ever heard of a roof that saves energy?

Reflective roof image - Florida Green Home Brokers

Reflective roofing can significantly lower electric bills by reducing the amount of solar energy that enters a home, and especially the attic, which results in an increase in the efficiency of an air conditioning system.  Continue reading »

 June 20, 2013
Jun 102013
 

 What makes a home green? Core Filled Concrete Block Insulation.

  Core Filled Concrete block insulation is a solution for non-insulated concrete or cinder block built homes. 

Masonry core fill insulation image - Florida Green Home Brokers

Masonry core fill insulation by Tailored Foam

Conventional masonry or cinder block construction is hard to seal against air and moisture infiltration and the insulation value is very low. 

One solution for green homes is core filled concrete block insulation, which is a non expanding foam insulation that is injected under pressure into the cavities of cinder or concrete block walls on site, filling all of the cavities, spaces and crevices that would normally allow air to travel through, to form a super insulated and continuous air and moisture barrier. Continue reading »

 June 10, 2013
Jun 012013
 

Switch It Green, Switch It Forward

So, what is Switch it Green, Switch it Forward all about, and how can it help to alleviate poverty and climate change, one solar panel at a time?

Switching It Green, Switch It Forward imageWe have started this new movement to help the planet and also help low income family homeowners to eliminate their electric bills. You can participate by simply switching who you pay for the products or services that you are already buying and paying for every month. Same services, same products. Basically just a switch of stores, but a huge difference and support for green and our fund that installs solar electric systems into low income family homes. The fund is made up from a % of income earned and donated by our supporting vendors when consumers switch to buy from them. Continue reading »

 June 1, 2013
May 222013
 

What makes a home green? A Rainwater Collection System. 

A rainwater collection system saves water and the environment.

Rainwater Harvesting image - Florida Green Home BrokersRainwater collecting  is an innovative system that any homeowner can use to capture rainwater, store it and use it later for irrigation.

By combining Drip Irrigation with a  rainwater collection systems, homeowners can literally irrigate their landscapes for free.

The financial savings earned by homeowners that install rainwater collection systems and Drip Irrigation systems are substantial, but the real winner is the environment, as urban run-off is a major problem. Continue reading »

 May 22, 2013
May 102013
 

What make a home green? An on-demand hot water circulating pump, which saves water, energy and money.

Hot water circulation pump image - Florida Green Home BrokersMany homeowners experience a long wait for hot water to reach their shower or bathroom faucets that are not located near to the hot water heater. This delay is caused by water that has cooled down while standing in the hot water line pipes. While the homeowner waits, the shower or faucet is left open, and the water running, which simply goes down the drain, thereby wasting the cost of the water as well as the sewer cost of removing the water. Continue reading »

 May 10, 2013
Apr 292013
 

Energy Star Homes. Planet Or Pocket Savings?

ENERGY STAR home certification image - Florida Green Home Brokers Only 5% of the world’s population lives in the United States, yet it is where 25% of global energy is consumed. The homes that we live in, account for 22% of this consumption, as well as 7% of the ever diminishing supply of water.  Residences also contribute 21% of the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, as well as Sulfur Oxides, Nitrogen Oxides, and Mercury.  Continue reading »

 April 29, 2013
Apr 112013
 

What makes a home green? Insulating concrete forms.

The home energy, Lego solution.

Insulated Concrete Forms image - Florida Green Home Brokers

Insulating concrete forms addresses two of the most important elements of green homes, which are effective insulation and airtight construction. If the latter is effective and does not either leak conditioned air out, or unconditioned air in, then a green home’s air conditioner works less, costs less to run, and does less harm to the environment. Continue reading »

 April 11, 2013
Mar 292013
 

Is a Net Zero Home the same as a Zero Energy home?

Netzero energy home image.These days we often hear the term Zero Energy Home, which is confusing and inaccurate unless the home is super energy efficient and disconnected from the grid altogether. What is usually being referred to is a Net Zero Home. Continue reading »

 March 29, 2013
Feb 282013
 

 What makes a home green? A heat pump.

A Heat Pump – a fridge in reverse.

Heat pump image - Florida Green Home Brokers

 

Residential heating and cooling has come a long way in recent years. Equipment that came into service ten years ago or more, uses much more energy than today’s high efficiency systems. The reason for this is the development of innovative new technologies such as heat pumps. Continue reading »

 February 28, 2013
Dec 152012
 

Florida Green Home Brokers Blog

 

Florida Green Home Brokers logo image

Welcome. This is the  blog for Florida Green Home Brokers. Join us on a journey to make green home living a reality for you, and all others who aspire to a sustainable world . Let’s get started ……

Continue reading »

 December 15, 2012